Page of

Beyond Human: Visualizing the Sexuality of Abraham Bosse’s Mandrake

Beyond Human: Visualizing the Sexuality of Abraham Bosse’s Mandrake

Chapter:
(p.221) Eight Beyond Human: Visualizing the Sexuality of Abraham Bosse’s Mandrake
Source:
Renaissance Posthumanism
Author(s):
Diane Wolfthal
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823269556.003.0008

“Beyond Human: Visualizing the Sexuality of Abraham Bosse’s Mandrake” draws attention to Abraham Bosse's etching of a mandrake, commissioned by the Royal Society, dated ca. 1650. This definitively “posthumanist” (that is, post-Renaissance humanism) or “proto-Enlightenment” (that is, a long-eighteenth-century) etching began as part of an attempt to replace myth and superstition with observation. Yet Bosse’s print, which shows the image of a woman's lower body topped by foliage, proves remarkably similar to an illumination of the Ovidian tale of Apollo and Daphne from Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea, which was presented to Queen Isabelle of France ca. 1410–11. The French and the English illustrations, from the beginning and end of Renaissance humanism respectively, suggest odd continuities. Arguing that in medieval and early modern Europe there was no fixed boundary separating human sexuality from that of plants, for Wolfthal the species-bending logic of the mandrake and all the narratives of humanist learning and scientific progress alike must come to terms with the too-often unexamined ways in which gender and sexed embodiment subtend the possibility of recognizing any form of human or humanism.

Keywords:   Abraham Bosse, Christine de Pizan, Enlightenment, mandrake, observation, posthumanism, sexuality

Sign In

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice